Healthy snack company Kind has staked its reputation for fostering a movement toward philanthropic causes, and now it's giving back to the entrepreneurial community.
Earlier today, founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky announced his commitment of $3 million to three women-led food startups: GimMe Health Foods, 479 Degrees, and EatPops.
In addition to funding, the companies will each receive support from Kind mentors. Lubetzky did not comment on how the $3 million would be divided among the three startups.
Hand-picked by President Obama to serve as an ambassador for the government's Global Entrepreneurship program earlier this year, Lubetzky made the announcement on the White House's first-ever Demo Day. The event showcases entrepreneurs -- specifically, entrepreneurs of color -- and allows them the opportunity to tell their stories while networking with potential investors, mentors, and fellow founders.
Events take place this afternoon in Washington, D.C., as other companies and accelerators are hosting similar events across the country.
"Today is about the spirit of entrepreneurship and the value it brings to our country," Lubetzky tells Inc. "It's exciting to see the administration so committed to fueling entrepreneurship in all corners of America and empowering underrepresented entrepreneurial groups, including women and minorities."
U.S. startups may be on the rise, but it's no secret that there remains a glaring lack of diversity overall. As little as 3 percent of venture capital-backed companies are headed up by women, and just 1 percent are led by African-Americans, according to a White House fact sheet.
Consider, too, that just one year ago, a slew of Silicon Valley tech companies disclosed their internal diversity statistics. At large, an overwhelming majority of white men still reign -- especially at the senior level. The Demo Day symbolizes the government's effort to foster more "inclusive" entrepreneurship across the country.
To that end, the National Venture Capital Association also announced its commitment to advance opportunity for women and underrepresented minorities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The pledge comes from several high-profile firms, including Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins.
Lubetzky, in keeping with the spirit of Demo Day, says he's particularly interested in giving back to minority founders. Both 479 Degrees and GimMe Health Foods are helmed by Korean immigrants, Jean Arnold and Annie Chun.
Lubetzky is more than familiar with the hardships endured by minority entrepreneurs: The son of a Holocaust survivor, he emigrated from his native Mexico at the age of 16 before launching his first venture, PeaceWorks, in 1994.
Initially, he wasn't allowed to work in the U.S. -- which he calls a blessing, because it motivated him to be an entrepreneur.
"Immigrants tend to deeply appreciate America because they can contrast the freedom and democracy and opportunities that we have with the broken systems elsewhere," Lubetzky says. "We don't take any of these rights for granted. Immigrants tend to carry huge fervor to provide for their families, to build a better future, and to build something of lasting value."
Kind has made leaps and bounds since its founding in 2004, when it touted just five employees. In 2012, the company raked in $120 million in sales, and while Lubetzky won't disclose the latest revenues, the company says it's sold more than 1 billion bars to date, and has a total of 450 employees.